Hello, I’m Nancy, the Product Lead of Materials & Content, and I have some exciting news! One month ago, we sent out a survey in which we asked people what they wanted in Shapeways material. We found that the top 2 qualities people were looking for are higher detail material, and smoother material. As you know, our number one priority is our customer, so we quickly went to work. In under a month, we found a new material! Starting today, we will be introducing this new materials in two different settings: Frosted Detail and Frosted Ultra Detail. See for yourself what is possible…

click on the pictures to enlarge

Frosted Ultra Detail vs. Frosted Detail Frosted Ultra Detail painted Frosted Ultra Detail vs. White Detail

As you can see from the pinwheel photo above (the first picture on the left), Frosted Ultra Detail is a crisper, clearer material than Frosted Detail. Also, the thinner pinwheel walls survives printing in the Frosted Ultra Detail material, while the same walls breaks off in Frosted Detail wheel (the wheel on the right).

This is also an improvement over our current detail offerings. First, we will allow interlocking parts with this material, which will enable more complex and interesting designs. The material is also smoother, and less yellow than the current detail material (especially the Frosted Ultra Detail, see the comparison photo above). Lastly, because the support material is easier to clean, less parts will get rejected. In the past, hollow parts with tiny holes were very difficult to clean and would sometimes get rejected, in the Frosted Detail materials, the support material is melted out, simplifying the cleaning process, so upload those complex models and off to the printers they go!

We will be offering Frosted Detail materials on a trial basis for 8 weeks. If the community response is positive, we will keep this material permanent, so be sure to give us plenty of feedback on your experiences (both good and bad) with this and our other detail materials.
Detailed information on the material properties, design rules, and printing process can be found on the Frosted Detail Material Page. Some basic design rules (get ready for a bunch of tiny numbers):

Frosted Detail Frosted Ultra Detail
Minimum wall thickness 0.5 mm 0.3 mm
Minimum detail thickness 0.2 mm 0.1 mm
Interlocking parts accepted, gap between parts must be at least 0.1 mm accepted, gap between parts must be at least 0.05 mm
Price $2.89/cm3 $4.39/cm3

The design rules for this material will evolve as we learn from your items but as a starting point above are our initial rules, keep an eye on materials page for Frosted Detail for the most current rules as this blog post will not be updated.

We sent some samples to active community users, and in the words of Stony Smith (of Wired fame) himself,

Having seen this material first hand, I am very impressed. It’s got what I would call a frosted-ice finish, and has truly super-fine details to it. The existing Transparent Detail material was always a bit yellowish, and this new material has none of that. The material also seems to be a bit harder than the old Detail materials, which seemed a bit “crumbly” or “not fully cooked” at times, not completely solid, whereas this new material feels much more solid. Yes, it’ll still break, but I think the more rigid plastic is what also helps them to achieve the higher level of detail. The only negative I’ve seen is that on (only) one of my prints, there seems to be some rastering or (bubbles?) inside the model that run at an angle to the X,Y and Z axis, but doesn’t appear on the surface.. not sure what that is about. To quote one of my buyers: Argh! I have all this inventory in WD and I wish I could replace it all with FHD! To quote myself: Oh, my carpal tunnel! Now I have to redesign for three times more detail!

To get specific.. for you model train fans out there.. It LOOKS like this material will be more than suitable for shells without a lot of sanding, etc. I can’t wait to try a shell in this material! BD/WD/TD were just not smooth enough to make rivet-counters happy, but this FHD really looks like it’s got potential.

Great feedback Stony, will look into the rastering effect you mention. Everyone, I look forward to seeing your amazing designs become a reality.